LONDON (Reuters) - British house prices rose at their fastest rate since August last month, and the country’s lack of affordable housing is now a “national emergency”, a body representing property valuers said on Thursday.
The Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors said its monthly house price balance jumped to +33 in April from an upwardly revised +22 in March, a much bigger increase than any economist polled by Reuters had expected.
RICS said it was the first time since August that house prices were rising in all regions of the United Kingdom, after London house prices ended a period of stagnation.
By contrast, the supply of homes coming on to the market fell at its fastest rate since May 2009, when the property market was in free-fall after the financial crisis.
RICS urged Prime Minister David Cameron’s newly re-elected government to do more to directly support home-building in unusually forceful language.
“The affordability and availability of homes in the UK is now a national emergency and addressing this crisis must be the priority for the new government,” RICS’s head of policy, Jeremy Blackburn, said.
Figures released by mortgage lender Halifax last week showed house prices had risen by 8.5 percent over the past year, and that a typical home cost just under 200,000 pounds ($314,000), more than five times average male full-time earnings.
RICS’s chief economist, Simon Rubinsohn, said the shortfall in homes for sale in April may have been partly down to home-owners waiting until after May 7’s election before putting property up for sale. But he added that any post-election rebound would only offer temporary respite.
Cameron’s Conservatives have said they want to increase home ownership, but most of their policies have focused on offering incentives to home-buyers, not tackling the planning controls which RICS said were stopping new construction.
“Demand-side measures ... will not see the Conservatives deliver on their promise of 1 million homes by 2020,” Blackburn said.
(Reporting by David Milliken; editing by William Schomberg)
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